What is a CDN? (Functions, How does it work, Advantages)

Cyber SecurityComputer NetworkSafe & Security

What is a Content Delivery Network?

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a collection of computers that keep data copies at several network nodes. A well-designed and adequately executed CDN increases data access by increasing bandwidth and reducing access latency. Web objects, apps, database queries, downloadable data objects, and video streams are all examples of CDN content.

  • A CDN is a collection of computer nodes connected over the Internet to give users access to massive volumes of video or data. CDNs are also known as Content Distribution Networks.

  • A CDN architecture comprises numerous independent components that all work together to give service to the end-user community. A consolidated file server that serves as both a user application and a data file warehouse is a famous example of a CDN.

  • File accessibility, application processing, multimedia delivery, and caching are all standard functions connected with the content delivery network. A fully operating CDN can demonstrate functions that are only feasible due to the participation of each CDN component.

  • Typically, a CDN serves as an Internet-based application service provider. Many well-known Internet network vendors, such as ATT, have built their content delivery networks to serve the content customer market.

  • CDN nodes are typically installed in various remote locations to cover numerous backbones. To improve the service delivery process, these network nodes help each other fulfil end-user content requests. Depending on the network design, the number of servers and compute nodes that make up the CDN varies.

Compared to a network backbone, strategically positioned servers have a higher capacity, maximizing the ability to expand the number of simultaneous users. Furthermore, strategically located edge servers reduce delivery times and load on public and private peers, backbones, and interconnects. By redirecting traffic to edge servers, a CDN manages a whole traffic load.

How Does a CDN Work?

A CDN's purpose is to reduce latency. Latency is the irritating delay you get while trying to access a web page or video stream on your device before it fully loads. Even though it's measured in milliseconds, it can feel like an eternity, and it could cause a load error or time-out.

Some content delivery networks reduce latency by shortening the distance that content must travel to reach you. As a result, by placing web content as close to the end-user as feasible, larger, and more widely spread, CDNs can rapidly and consistently serve web content.

  • Let's imagine it's the weekend, and you want to relax while watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster — the CDN will locate the most appropriate server on its network to serve that video.

  • This is usually the server that is closest to your physical location. The media files will be cached and stored on that content delivery network server for future requests from other users in the same geographic area.

  • If the requested item is unavailable or obsolete, the CDN service will cache the newly obtained content for future queries.

  • While CDNs are commonly used to deliver website material, this isn't their primary purpose. CDNs, in reality, serve a wide range of material, including 4K and HD video, audio streams, software downloads like apps, games, OS upgrades, and much more. A content delivery network can potentially deliver any data that can be digitized.

Functions of a CDN

A CDN's primary function is to provide material via a network of servers securely and efficiently. These networks enhance the security, performance, and availability of material. They're also utilized to track network traffic and collect user analytics.

Websites, mobile applications, streaming media, and downloadable items are all served by content delivery networks (CDNs). CDNs handle traffic from social media and search engines.

Content owners use CDN services to speed up the distribution of static and dynamic material, online games, mobile content, and streaming video, among other things. The following are some instances of how CDNs are used −

  • An e-commerce company uses one to deliver content during peak traffic times of the year.

  • A bank uses a CDN to convey sensitive information securely.

  • One of these networks is used by a mobile application provider to improve the customer experience of mobile users by reducing load times and increasing response times.

Advantages of Using a CDN

The advantages of CDNs can be divided into four categories, depending on the size and needs of your company −

Increasing the speed with which a website's pages load

Users experience faster webpage loading times by enabling web content delivery closer to website visitors by using a nearby CDN server (among other optimizations). A website with a long page load time is more likely to have visitors click or bounce away. This may have an adverse effect on the page's search engine ranking. As a result, using a CDN can lower bounce rates and enhance the number of time visitors spend on your site. To put it another way, a website that loads rapidly will keep visitors on the site for longer.

Lowering the cost of bandwidth

Bandwidth is spent every time an origin server answers a request. The cost of bandwidth usage is a significant burden for enterprises. CDNs can reduce the quantity of data an origin server needs offer through caching and other improvements, lowering hosting costs for website owners.

Increasing the availability and redundancy of content

Large volumes of online traffic or hardware faults can cause a website's usual operation, resulting in downtime. Due to its dispersed nature, a CDN can manage more web traffic and withstand hardware failure than many origin servers. Furthermore, if one or more CDN servers go down for whatever reason, the web traffic can be picked up by other operating servers, ensuring that the service remains available.

Increasing the safety of your website

CDNs are perfect for mitigating DDoS attacks because they use the same method to handle traffic spikes. These are attacks in which hostile actors send many requests to overwhelm your application or origin servers. When a server goes down owing to high traffic, the website's availability for customers suffers.

With the GSLB and edge servers dispersing the load evenly throughout the network's total capacity, a CDN effectively works as a DDoS prevention and mitigation platform. Certificate management and automatic certificate production and renewal are all services that CDNs can provide.

Updated on 02-Jun-2022 10:09:54